Title: Man Of My Heart
Era: The Clone Wars
Characters: Bail Organa, Padmé Amidala, Obi-Wan Kenobi
Disclaimer: I make no profit on this fanfiction set in Star Wars, using its characters and settings and I am neither George nor Walt.
Warning: uses Karen Miller's Wild Space referent of the deadly planet Zigoola, which Bail and Obi-Wan barely escaped
Summary: Friendship means saying the tough words.
"Bill Number 238174 is out of committee and shall be voted upon by this august body in today's afternoon session. There will be no public hearing. Adjourn for lunch and resume at thirteen-hundred-thirty." Whump! Mas Amedda's staff must weigh half of what Bail himself weighed; the massive Chagrian wielded it with no visible strain. The two Senators observing proceedings with more intent expressions than the rest nodded to each other, debarked their separate pods and left their retinues behind to have a private luncheon together.
Weren't Padmé and Obi-Wan smarter than this? Bail Prestor Organa strode at a slower pace than usual with his friend through the upper Senate concourse. Padmé Amidala's steps fell as softly as ever, her balance as uncompromised as her principles. In politics, she shone as Bail imagined the Force did to those who were privileged enough to perceive it - Padmé would be a beacon without peer, Bail thought fondly. Then his glance slid downwards to her midsection swathed in cunning drapery, and he had to restrain a sigh. Of course she got pregnant, though she strove to hide it. He had broken the news last night to Breha and they had talked for hours on the subject. He only had to find an opening to discuss the way that she and he had planned to help the romantic pair. He had pictured Breha in the condition often enough; they two had even indulged in generating a holo of what Breha would look like near term, courtesy of one of those comm listings she was on due to their ongoing quest for a child.
But enough wishful thinking.
"Will you filibuster, if it comes to that?" he asked. She wouldn't; she couldn't.
Padmé faltered when answering, where she never would have hesitated before. "N-No."
Her reasons astounded him. "No, Bail, I won't. It's a way of stalling and I want action now." They shouldered their way through a passel of scowling Andoans while Bail searched for the proper words of caution. Bill Number 238174 was too important to flub. Should he enlist another friend's aid to slow down Padmé's impetuousness? He had never had to before. She must be desperately counting days and hours until her world changed forever, yes that was it. She was rushed, excited, perhaps fearful. In her place, he would have been, too.
A crystal clear voice rang through the tumult, reaching their ears without alarming or alerting anyone else to the caller's identity. Later that day, Bail would add the quality to the list he was keeping of Jedi abilities. Every now and then, he thought back to Zigoola's events to submit another entry to the file.
"Padmé! Bail!" Bail stopped mid-step at their mutual friend's mellifluous callout, a far cry from the man's pain-filled, grating voice he had sympathized with on Zigoola.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi appeared in the crowd as if flickering right up from a holocomm emitter, wearing concealing clothing himself with his hood tipped back, hands clasped in front of him, free from his obscuring sleeves the color of rich autumnal tree bark. Were they clasped to prevent an unseemly embrace from escaping him? In the river of bustling sentients, the three of them were an island of stillness.
"Master Jedi." Padmé's warmth lit the concourse, friendly and more than friendly. Then at their left, doors cycled open to emit even more of their political fellows and their island stood in danger of flooding. Like a seagoing battle cruiser thrusting forward through a tidal wave, Obi-Wan grasped Padmé's elbow, docking her at last against the windowed side of the concourse, Bail chugging behind like a dutiful tugboat in their wake.
If only they knew how obvious they are. Once, Bail had pondered which of the two most famous Jedi warriors his fellow senator had allowed herself to become enamored with, but now he knew. "Good job, Obi-Wan. I didn't think the issue of where to place the newest senatorial portraits would generate this much enthusiasm." Crowds continued to gather, in smaller knots now, with much gesticulating and muted arguments.
Obi-Wan spared his newest friend a glance. "I see. Important subjects to discuss in the body politic, as always." When Padmé chuckled, Obi-Wan's regard flicked to her as if pulled by a magnet, which, Bail supposed, was more than a figure of speech. He knew that when Breha was in the room, he had to wrench his own attention away from her to any matter at hand. The Jedi and Senator threatened to exclude him from conversation; already lost in each other, they linked arms and stood together, faint, friendly smiles plastered on for the sake of the casual observer. Bail shivered nonetheless, his light mood dissipating.
Suddenly, the danger the two of them were in appeared nearly as deadly as Zigoola's menace. If the Jedi Council knew of Obi-Wan's breaking of their Code, he could be castigated, taken out of GAR command, or even expelled from the Order. If Naboo's Queen, normally a reasonable sort, knew of the doubly scandalous relationship, she might recall Amidala, allowing Junior Representative Binks to rise to full Senator.
Bail swallowed hard. He was going to ruin their day. He had to, for the sake of the Republic.
With a gesture, he led them into an alcove which he knew to be secure. Well, he ought to know, anyway, he told himself, because as head of the Senate Security Committee, he had read the latest stats on transponder sweeps this morning. The hubbub faded to a murmur as he waved the door shut on the three of them.
Padmé could not be contained, unwilling to step away from Obi-Wan's grasp on her arm; indeed, she pressed her hand atop his. "Obi-Wan, what brings you here? Nothing serious, I hope?"
"This and that, nothing to worry you, Milady." The Jedi cast about for a seat for her. There was only a comm station with a backless high stool, not very comfortable looking. He smiled at Bail. "I've got to be on my way, Bail, if you don't mind, but perhaps we can chat another time - "
"Who do you two think you're fooling?" Oh, that did not come out well at all.
Padmé froze. Obi-Wan's face turned into the professional Jedi mask that he used to perfection, before Bail had seen behind it, had heard the man's anguished pleas to the hideous bare plains of Zigoola, a place pocked with ravines, dappled with stunted twists of trees. Bail had told neither Obi-Wan nor Padmé that he overheard Obi-Wan bemoan the wrongness of it all, that he, a full Jedi Master, should desire more than the Order could give him. That he had taken what he wanted, that Padmé had wanted him in return, that they found rooms wherever they could and that sometimes Padmé locked her heels around his calves and -
"Obi-Wan. Padmé. I'm telling you this because I care deeply for you both. I - I may have an in to knowing about your relationship because of my position, but actually, anyone who sees you two together for more than one minute could figure it out. I am not unique." It was important to say this. Already he could see Padmé stiffen her back, compress her lips and ready a return volley. He had to say now what he meant, simply and clearly, if they'd let him. "There's one thing about a pregnancy" - Obi-Wan flinched at the word, most unlike him - "it's just so damned inevitable to be known. If you'd only taken steps to - " Too late. The former child Queen had remnants of regal grand passions yet in her.
Padmé's eyes blazed. "That's none of your business, my friend. You're overstepping boundaries here and I will not sit still for it."
"Wait until you hear what I have to say - "
"Let's hear him out, Padmé." Obi-Wan was as neutral as the planet Orto was said to be, and as frigid. Bail began again.
"My friends, you both are heading down a dangerous path."
"We know that." Freed from restraint, Obi-Wan whisked his cloak around Padmé, as if she had taken a chill from standing next to the windows from a moment before. She leaned into him, and his arm settled firmly around her shoulders. Bail supposed they must have had some strategy in mind when time passed and she gave birth? Surely, they were not trusting to Fate, or even the Force?
He took a deep breath. "Bill 238174 needs stopping. I will filibuster starting this afternoon until the time for voting is past; I will not stop until then, I promise you both. My allies will demand more research into the financial situation on Orto and you, Senator Amidala, as my closest ally, will be the natural one to head this investigating, hands-on group. You will leave when the filibuster begins, you will not stop until you reach Aldera. You will take Motée along, and she will take your place on the team in disguise when they continue to Orto. You can wait in the palace until nature takes its course. Breha will be with you and her doctor will attend you." He had to look away. This was going to be difficult for Breha, sending in her own doctor to take care of another's parturition, and not her own. Bail would have to make copious comms to her to plan and soothe during the weeks ahead. He shot a glance at Padmé's middle. Or days ahead.
"So you've thought this through. It makes our plan rather juvenile." Obi-Wan was coming around, Bail could tell, but thunderclouds still occluded Padmé's pretty face. Bail wondered if Padmé's family knew about the situation. Padmé's next words answered his question.
"I don't think so, Obi-Wan! My family's estate at Varykino would be the perfect hideaway - "
"It's too obvious, darling, that's its only drawback." Bail was glad he had set the alcove window's privacy screen to optimal when Padmé broke away from Obi-Wan's half-embrace and faced him squarely. Don't have a row, don't don't don't, not here, my friends, there are people who are paid to report things like this -
"It would be familiar."
"Yes. And you could tell your family about us in private there, I understand that." Bail surmised that Obi-Wan's negotiating skills were set at optimal, too. "Bail's plan adds another layer of privacy, don't you see; your relationship with the Organas is professional and they as royals have access to profound security measures. It's part of their lives." A look to Bail for support, and oh yes, he could do that.
"Padmé, the palace is as secure as any being could make it. Santhe/Sienar Intelligence grid net, full capacity, discreet patrols. Breha chose the system."
"Santhe/Sienar? Really? Not Arakyd?" Obi-Wan was not the tech head that his impetuous ex-Padawan was, but Bail supposed he had some preferences. Every Coruscanti citizen did.
"Arakyd? Are you saying that an antiquated firm like that one which manufactures droids and heavy equipment could handle something as delicate as interpersonal security? Really, Obi-Wan?"
Obi-Wan sniffed. "You've not read the latest specs on their D-46383 closet door mesh grid, then. I'm surprised at you, being head of Senate Security and all that."
"If the D-46383 can hold a candle to the SS-903689, I'll be bound."
"The D-46383 has 29 per cent more heat sensors than the SS-903689, it has 3.8 per cent more light gathering on the infrared spectrum, it has - "
"Obi-Wan, I'm going to throw up."
"Padmé! Don't do it, hold it back!"
"Not really! Padmé, I'll chime for a med droid - "
Padmé settled on the stool, hooking her feet on its rungs. She folded her arms over her stomach. "Got your attention, didn't it. No, I'm feeling all right." She sent a warm glance at Obi-Wan's appalled face. The Jedi cloak draped around her overflowed her petite physique and she looked like a child to Bail despite her condition. "And I'm calmer, thanks for the - the entertainment."
"Entertainment?" Obi-Wan's voice sometimes squeaked, Bail hadn't paid attention to that before. He didn't think it was a Jedi trait.
"Yes. You and I are discussing our intimate lives and very important decisions, and you two go off on a technical tangent. D-46383, SS-903689, I'm satisfied with either. And" - she included Bail with a rueful look - "I trust Breha's judgment. Your security will be fine."
The two men visibly relaxed. All that was left now, Bail reasoned, was to confirm with Breha, prepare subjects for his hours or even days-long filibuster, spray his throat, and send his two friends instructions as to where and when to synch their transmission frequencies for even more privacy. He could do this.
One more thing. "Obi-Wan, it's not likely you'll be with Padmé when she delivers, is it?"
"No." There was an ocean of regret in that one word.
"She'll be all right."
"I believe so." Obi-Wan brightened. "Anakin's current mission is in the area, however, so perhaps I, or you, should give him all the information and frequencies - "
Bail had to quash this. He had seen regret on Anakin's face, too. He had seen uglier things, as well. "The plan stands, my friends. Security demands as few leaks as possible." Obi-Wan's face fell, but Padmé's look of understanding made up for it. "Things will work out."
He left them then, as they planned and dreamed, fretted and speculated. If he and Breha became pregnant - no, when they became pregnant - there would be open joy for them and for Alderaan. No sneaking around, no headaches, no scurrilous plans.
Later that day, he added 'adaptability' to his file on Jedi traits.
a/n Inspired by some old plot bunny notes, and many TFN discussions about fascinating compare/contrast of various tech issues. The boards are good for that.